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Once a common site in the British countryside and gardens, hedgehog numbers are now taking a 'nose dive'.

The most recent data from the Mammals Trust UK (MTUK) has revealed that the number of hedgehogs in England and Wales declined by over 20% between 2001 and 2004. If they were to continue to decline at that rate, hedgehogs could be a creature of the past by 2025 - a worrying prospect.

It's not clear why hedgehogs are doing a disappearing act, but loss of suitable habitat and the use of farmland chemicals are obvious contenders for the blame.

Hedgehogs have up to 5000 short, yellow-tipped spines can cover their upper body, offering protection from predators. If they're disturbed they'll roll up into a ball so their soft underside is not exposed

Hedgehogs can be found in hedgerows, as well as woodland edges and scrubland. You may also see them in short grass, searching for prey.

They will visit 'untidy' gardens, with bushes, hedges, leaves and twigs on the ground. They can use these to make their nests.

Hedgehogs are protected under the Wildlife and countryside Act, so cannot be trapped without a license. They've been protected from hunting since 1981.

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